Timofey Mozgov Was a Non-Factor in the Finals, But He's the One Who Saved Cleveland


Timofey Mozgov is an NBA champion. The former Knick and Nugget was traded to the Cavaliers last season and saved the city. Mozgov played just 27-minutes total in the series, but what he did for Cleveland went far beyond the box score.

His name became a verb during his rookie year with the Knicks when Blake Griffin detonated on him. He was then shipped to the Nuggets in the trade that brought Carmelo Anthony to New York. In Denver, he became a solid center, averaging 13.7 points, 10.5 rebounds and 1.9 blocks per 36-minutes. Nearly 4 years later, he was traded to the Cavs along with Iman Shumpert and J.R. Smith.

In Cleveland, Mozgov turned into a larger-than-life personality and celebrity endorser. Most importantly, legend has it that Mozgov’s arrival brought LeBron James back from the brink during a dark period early in James’ return to Cleveland. Via ESPN:

LeBron was injured. Blatt’s every move was dissected and second-guessed. The Cavaliers had lost six of seven games when Mozgov first suited up for Cleveland, during a West Coast swing against Golden State.

“Timo walked in and everybody stood straight up,” Cleveland GM David Griffin said. “[LeBron’s] like, ‘That’s a big motherfucker.’ Timo has had a big impact, I think, on our swagger and our belief that we can win. I think we went through a period of time when we didn’t have enough confidence in our ability to protect the rim, because of the injury to [Varejao], we really didn’t have another option.”

Mozgov played a major role on last season’s Cavaliers. He started all 20 of the Cavs’ playoff games, playing 26.5 minutes a night for a short-handed team that at one point had a 2-1 lead in the Finals. This season his playing time dropped to 17 minutes a night, but he remained a rotation player for the 1-seed Cavaliers and started 48 games, allowing the Cavs the ability to throw out a true center if need be. As usual, his presence off the court was just as important. Remember, Mozgov taught us how to love:

So how does Tinder work? Don’t ask the Cavaliers. “It’s big in younger locker rooms,” guard Joe Harris says. “We’re older, so Tinder is probably foreign to these guys.”

“Teender? Show me,” says big man Timofey Mozgov, snatching my phone. “All right, what is it? A game?”

Sort of. Swipe left if you don’t dig her; swipe right if you do.

“I see, just random girls …” Mozgov says, swiping rapidly, 10, 15 times, all to the right.

Um, dude, stop swiping?

“Trust me,” he says, just as he strikes a match. “She likes you! OK, we send a message: ‘Hi, can we meet?'”

The cavalier cupid is beside himself with laughter. “If you know girls like you, you don’t need to do the dirty works! So easy. I wish they had it before I got married.”

Now he’s a champion and the Warriors are the ones who got Mozgov’d. Even if they don’t know they did.